July 24, 2009 1 Comment
For us football fans, the months between the Super Bowl and the start of the regular season can feel like an eternity. You get plenty of coverage of free agent moves, and we’ll probably be wondering if Brett Favre is actually retiring until the turn of the century, but what football fans really jones for is that 12-hour orgy that is Sunday football, when, from the time we rise until the time we go to bed, either 22 guys are trying to beat the hell out of each other or guys who used to beat the hell out of each talk about guys beating the hell out of each other. Really, how better to spend a day of rest? But from mid-February to September, we have to spend Sundays actually interacting with friends and family.
Which is why we love the NFL Draft so much. It’s that oasis in the desert that is the off-season, the two-day booster shot that keeps us going until the fall. We’ll gladly sit with bated breath while the Detroit Lions mull the 145th overall pick because we’re addicts and this is our only fix. Fans will get together to practice grilling, drinking, and acting like idiots so they’re in fine form once the season rolls around.
But now the league wants to screw this all up.
Next year, the first round of the draft will take place on Thursday night, the second and third rounds on Friday, and the rest of the rounds on Saturday.
Excuse me, but just how am I supposed to drink and act like an idiot on a work night?
Okay, seriously, the appeal of the draft is that it’s an EVENT. The overwhelming immersion of it all is what draws us to it. Parceling it out over three nights is like going swimming on a hot July day by going in up to your ankles, waiting an hour, going up to your knees, waiting another hour, then finally diving in.
Also, the NBA and NHL have a little something going on at night during April that sports fans might have a bit of an interest in. Something about playoffs or some such nonsense. But I’m sure people would rather watch names being read than watch their team fighting for a championship. The NFL IS the most popular sport, after all.
And that’s the problem. The league is the 800-pound gorilla, but it got that way by never really acting like it. The blue-collar tradition of the league was a huge part of its appeal, but slowly, that’s been eroding. An extra game on Thanksgiving. Games you can only see on the NFL Network. Shipping games — and possibly the Super Bowl — to London. And now turning the draft from a two-day beer and pretzels event into a weeknight cocktail party.
Yeah, I’ll watch it. I’ll deal with ignoring my fiance — actually, my wife by then — for three days instead of two. I’ll deal with the draftus interruptus of having the first round end and being stuck waiting a day to see it continue. But the cozy feeling of being wrapped up in almost 48-straight hours of football in the long warm spring will be gone. We won’t be getting as strong a fix for our addiction. And it probably won’t be until Week 3 of the regular season now until I get my beer legs back.